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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Give Me Something to Blog About

If you have been following along, by now you should have a blog of your very own. You’ve probably spent some time coming up with the perfect name and choosing the right theme. Your blog is ready to go, you have a nice cup of tea, and that empty post window is staring you in the face.

What are you going to write about? Feeling like you have writer’s block before you’ve even begun? Fear Not!

First, ask yourself who your target audience is. Are you writing a blog specifically for Mothers of Twins, Fellow Photography Nuts, or Fans of British Music? Perhaps you are planning a personal blog full of wry observations for the world at large. Is your blog specifically a marketing tool for your business?

Whatever the topic, if you are starting out and aren’t sure where to begin, find some other blogs on the same topic and see what they are doing. No, I’m not saying go out there and steal ideas or plagarize, but you’d be suprised how often seeing what other folks are doing might spark a whole new idea of your own. You can find other blogs a couple of different ways, but generally I like to use blog search engines like Google Blog Search and Technorati.

If you don’t have the time to do some blog surfing when you are stuck for an topic, here are a few ideas for you to ponder.

* Do you have any of your essays/craft projects/report cards from your school days? That should give you enough fodder to keep you going for days. Scan them and post them. Discuss the notes your teacher left.

* Do you have some interesting photographs? Post them. Blog posts that include pictures are statistically much more popular than mere text.

* Find a topic appropriate YouTube/Google video and talk about it. This one is especially good for days when you don’t have much time to post.

* What would you do if you ran the world, or at least the governing body for your topic? What would you change?

Do you find that you have all kinds of ideas for blog posts…until you actually sit down in front of the computer? Unless you are better than I am at keeping track of little pieces of paper, get yourself a wee notebook and a pen. Start carrying them with you everywhere. I cannot emphasize this enough. There is nothing more disheartening than losing a good idea.

Is your problem not a lack of ideas, but rather so many that you don’t know where to start? Get yourself a notebook and pen, and write them all down. I find that it’s much easier to manage an overabundance of ideas when I can see what I’m dealing with. Then, choose the one that interests you most and get started. If something else occurs to you as you are going along, simply add it to the list.

I hope that this post has helped you get started. Remember, no one is interested in what you had for lunch…unless you are writing a food blog and are prepared to discuss it in an interesting way (and include lovely photos.) Now get out there and start writing.

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Blogging: Where to Begin

As promised, here is my first post on the topic of blogging. Be sure to comment with your questions or comments, so that I know what to cover next. Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

What is a blog and who does the blogging?

“Blog” is short for “Weblog,” though I haven’t heard anyone use the term “weblog” in years. A blog is an easy to update website, and anyone can have one. These days there are blogs on just about every topic under the sun. Many of them are personal online journals, or at least they start out that way, and others chose a topic niche and blog solely on that topic. The topic could be as specific as Food History or one particular TV show. Other blogs are broader in scope like the ones appearing on newspaper webpages these days.

So, you want to give this blogging thing a try, but you don’t know where to start?

Where to Blog?

Blogging is incredibly popular these days. To keep up with the demand, there are all sorts of sites on the Web that want you to host your blog there. Some of the sites will let you blog for free, some cost money, and others offer tiered services where the basic account is free. As you might imagine, this means that there are a multitude of options out there.

Here are a few of the blog hosting services out there:

WordPresshttp://www.wordpress.com
(Free and extremely flexible, WordPress is one of the most popular strictly blogging sites. It is the one I use most often. In fact, this blog is hosted on WordPress.)

Livejournalhttp://www.livejournal.com
(Livejournal isn’t just a place to host a blog, it’s also a community, home too seemingly endless groups, and a feed reader all rolled into one. As you can imagine, it is also incredibly popular. There are both paid and free options. Livejournal allows you to control who sees your posts.)

Xangahttp://www.xanga.com/
(Xanga is a bit like Livejournal in that it is more than just another blogging site. Xanga is free.)

Typepadhttp://www.typepad.com/
(Although Typepad offers a 14 day free trial, it is not free. Like Blogger and WordPress it is strictly for blog hosting.)

Bloggerhttp://www.blogger.com
(Blogger is a free and straightforward blogging site. It’s a good site for beginners.)

Experience Projecthttp://www.experienceproject.com/
(For a bit of variety I am including the Experience Project here. Like Livejournal, this site is both a blogging site and a community. The Experience Project difference is the ability to interact and blog anonymously with folks “just like you.”)

A Note of Caution:

Intellectually, I’m sure that we all know that posting something on a blog makes it available to anyone surfing the internet. (Unless you have a blog somewhere that offers privacy settings.) In practice, however, people often say things like “It doesn’t matter. No one reads my blog.” Then, they complain about their job and their boss comments on the post. Just think before you post and you should be fine.

Tip: One common way to maintain a little privacy in a public blog is to refer to folks by pseudonyms, the first letter of their name, or just a first name.
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Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

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Yesterday, I mentioned in passing that I was teaching a class in blogging on Saturday here in the library, and someone commented to ask for more information. It turns out that my class and the waiting list are both full. (Dear Heavens!) Obviously, this is a very hot topic.

So, in order to reach a larger audience, I thought that I’d try talking about blogging here…on the blog. I’m not, say, Darren Rowse, but I certainly know a thing or two on the subject. In fact, I’ve just been doing a bit of checking, and it looks like I’ve been blogging since 2001, and professionally since 2006.

Here’s the question for all of you, then. What would you like to know? Would you prefer that I answer questions, or would you like a more structured series of posts? If I don’t know the answer to your question off of the top of my head, I can always find out.

What do you think?

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